Climbing shoe review: Five Ten Aleon

Advertisements

The Five Ten Aleon is a brand new, moderately aggressive shoe designed for hard bouldering and sport climbing. It is the first major design by the Swiss climbing legend Fred Nicole. If you don’t know who Fred Nicole is, check out THIS Wikipedia page and THIS nice article by Climbing.com. As a personal note, I have to say that I didn’t need any other specifications to buy the Aleon. I was sold when hearing the name of Fred Nicole. Huge respect.

Anyway, when Five Ten merged with Adidas, they received access to all the awesome tools, materials and designs that Adidas had put together over the years. Primeknit, a four-way stretch material that’s digitally-knitted into the shoe is just to name one of them. The Primeknit is used as a sock-like upper. I’ll talk more about that later.

I heard that Mr. Nicole is designing a whole line of shoes for Five Ten and the Aleon is the first of the bunch. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s coming.

The mighty Aleon

The design

The Five Ten Aleon is an aggressive shoe with a rather high arch. This medium stiffness shoe drives huge amounts of power to the big toe, making it very powerful on small footholds and edges. Even though Five Ten says that it is a medium stiff shoe, it still is quite sensitive.

In my opinion, the heel is similar to the heel of the largely successful Dragon, only better. The heel is sensitive enough and hugs the heel nicely, but for my shape of the heel, there is a rather small empty spot right at the end. The heel comes quite high so slipping out of the shoe is not an issue.

Five Ten wanted to keep the slipper-like feel and provided only one velcro strap across the top of the shoe. If pulled too tight, I noticed that it dug into the top of the foot, making it feel a bit uncomfortable. Once tightened properly, I had no problems.

The Primeknit material is used to create the upper part of the shoe. It’s like a sock that is really easy to get in and out of, that hugs the foot and makes the shoe feel more secure. This is probably one of my favorite things about the Aleon. Did I already mention it is a four-way stretch material? It’s hard to explain, but it almost seems that the material knows when to stretch and when to hug the foot. Pretty cool.

The Aleon uses the tried and tested C4 rubber which is sturdy and can withstand some punishment without trading off on friction.

The heel construction resembles the heel of the model Dragon

First impression

Pulling on the Five Ten Aleon for the first time, I was amazed by how easily they glid on. My previous experiences with Five Ten shoes were quite different. Some shoes (that were sized perhaps a bit too tight) I remember pulling on with a plastic bag under the heel and being afraid of ripping the two pulling tabs off. Maybe a wee bit too tight 😉

The second thing I noticed was the comfort. Regularly DIScomfort is the first feeling when pulling on new, correctly sized climbing shoes for the first time. ALL climbing shoes stretch to some extent, despite what the manufacturer states in their sales pitches. Some stretch more, some less. But ALL stretch.

The Aleon feels comfortable straight out of the box. Comfortable, keeping in mind that it still is a performance shoe, with rather a rather aggressive appearance.

I’ve owned maybe five different Five Ten climbing shoes and the one feature that instantly differentiates the Aleon from the rest, is that the toe is quite pointy. Pointy in a way, that makes you want to climb using small pockets for footholds. A pointy shoe is way easier to shove inside a small pocket compared to a wider, blunt one. The Aleon is the first Five Ten shoe with a narrow, pointy like toe-box, that I know of.

Performance

After testing out the Five Ten Aleon extensively for a few months, I have to say that I’m quite impressed. The fit was good straight out of the box but gets better after, say, two weeks of wearing them. The heel feels better and overall the Aleon feels nice and comfortable.

For me, it always takes some time to get the hang of a new pair of climbing kicks. Especially when trying different brands and/or models. Once getting familiar with the Aleon, it shines. It almost seems that for the Aleon, there isn’t a foothold small enough to stand on. The edging power is spot on. It might not be the best slab shoe, but I’ve not had any problems there either. For hard bouldering or sport on small footholds: an absolute beast!

The C4 rubber holds up to a lot of abuse and doesn’t chip away, like some other brands of rubber might do, especially after sharp granite footholds. And when climbing inside, the rubber doesn’t seem to ”glass out” as easily.

The toe-box has a nice slab of rubber on top, which makes for increased performance when toe hooking.

After a few months of using for two to three times a week, the Aleon is holding up nicely. No seams coming apart or rubber tearing away or anything like that. I’ve heard some negative remarks concerning the durability of the shoe, but I have had no problems. It seems that Five Ten sorted them out quickly during the first few batches.

The heel

When I first pulled on the shoe, I was a bit concerned about how the single velcro strap holds the shoe secure on powerful heel hooks, but I have had no problems. The heel is solid and only gets better when broken in properly.

Comparing the heels of the Scarpa Booster S and the Five Ten Aleon

The heel is sort of a medium volume heel. For climbers with low-volume heels, you might get an empty spot at the end of the heel. I guess you could always size down to get a ‘vacuum’ fit, but I prefer comfort over a super fit of the heel.

The heel is also sensitive enough to get a feeling of what’s happening under it when hooking. I like ‘feeling’ the heel, which lets me adjust the pressure or power of the heel hook to prevent it from firing off a hold.

Sizing

If you are familiar with Five Ten sizing, choose a size close to the one you are using, like the Blackwing or Dragon.  I use the Aleon as a size UK 6,5 (EU 40). For comparison, I wear the Scarpa Instinct (lace) in size EU 39, Scarpa Booster S EU 39, Five Ten Blackwing EU 40, La Sportiva Solution EU 38,5-39 and Tenaya Oasi in an EU 38.  My street shoe size is about EU 41.

The price

And the price? Yes, the Aleon is quite expensive costing around 150 dollars or 145€. It’s probably one of the most expensive shoes out there. Even though the price is rather high, I encourage you to give them a try. Especially if you are a fan of Five Ten.

Still regarding the price, if the Aleon costs twenty bucks more than the shoe you used to wear, so what? At the end of the season, I bet you won’t be 20 bucks richer. You’ll end up spending it on café lattes or craft beers or something else just as important. What do you think?

Scarpa Booster S and the Five Ten Aleon

The final word

The Five Ten Aleon is an awesome performer. The edging power is super, sensitive is on point and the comfort is there too. I also think the heel is better than in the previous models. Awesome shoe. Great for sport and bouldering where standing on small edges with precision is key.

I do have one complaint about the Aleon, however. The design is aggressive and that’s fine. It’s the shape of the shoe that’s probably not suited for the shape of my foot. If you look at the picture where I compared the sole of the Scarpa Booster S and the Aleon, you will see the difference. The Aleon is really precise and pointy, and so is the Booster S, but in a different way. The shape of the Aleon is like the head of a spear or arrow, compared to the banana shape of the Booster S.

What I’m trying to say is this: the Aleon forces my big toe towards the center, towards the other toes, while the Booster S keeps my big toe in a more natural position and directs the rest of the toes towards the big toe. See the difference?

Scarpa Booster S (banana) and Five Ten Aleon (head of a spear)

After wearing the Aleon for a few months, I’ve noticed a slight pain developing on the top part of my foot every time I’ve worn the Aleon. Even though the Aleon is a bit wider than the average Five Ten. For me, this means that the Aleon might not be suitable for my foot, even if I like everything else about it.

The pain is more likely to be a result of wearing small (sometimes too small?) climbing shoes repeatedly for a decade or so. What I’m really trying to say here, is try the Five Ten Aleon because it is an awesome shoe, but make sure it is suitable for the shape of your foot. If you need help choosing a climbing shoe, check out THIS article.

I have not been a huge fan of Five Ten in the past (even though I’ve owned several pairs), but it seems that I might become one. And if Mr. Nicole keeps up the pace by coming up with numerous awesome designs, who knows? If the Aleon is a taste of what’s coming, I’m eagerly waiting for the rest of the new climbing shoe line to come out. Nice job Five Ten and Mr. Nicole.

Five Ten Aleon details:

  • Regular fit
  • Hook-and-loop closure
  • Adidas Primeknit textile upper
  • Textile lining; Stealth® C4 rubber outsole for unbeatable grip
  • Medium-stiff midsole
  • Sock-like construction hugs the foot
  • Concave toe box for steep climbing
  • Weight: 7.4 oz (210 g)

 

Related articles:

Climbing shoe review: Tenaya Oasi

Climbing shoe review: Scarpa Instinct (Lace)

How to choose a climbing shoe

Climbing shoe review: Scarpa Instinct Vs

Advertisements

Leave a Reply